News / Europe

    Turkey Crisis Undermines Erdogan's EU Meeting

    Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters at the parliament in Ankara, Jan. 14, 2014.
    Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters at the parliament in Ankara, Jan. 14, 2014.
    Dorian Jones
    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit this week to Brussels is being touted as an important step in putting the country's membership bid back on track. But the visit is being overshadowed by a growing political crisis in Turkey. A month-old corruption investigation led by a group of Turkish prosecutors has targeted dozens of Erdogan's allies. The prime minister says the wide-ranging probe - in which dozens of his allies were arrested and more than 20 charged with money laundering, bribery and zoning law infractions-is a foreign-backed "judicial coup."

    Erdogan's first visit to European Union's capital in five years was to have signaled fresh momentum in ties after the EU in November agreed to reopen membership negotiations following a three-year freeze.

    But, diplomatic columnist Kadri Gursel of the Turkish newspaper Milliyet and Al Monitor website warned Erdogan could face a difficult visit following what many call a purge of the police and judiciary. 

    "He is going there as a prime minister whose legitimacy is impaired. He is under heavy scrutiny. He is under heavy criticism, because this recent intervention to the justice. There is a strong raising of concerns because of the fact Turkey is losing its character of state of law," said Gursel.

    Erdogan is scheduled to meet with leading members of the EU Commission and European Parliament. The EU Commission has voiced concern that the Turkish government's proposed legal reforms threaten the separation of powers, a key membership requirement. But Erdogan dismissed such concerns.

    "It's nobody's job to make a statement about Turkey's move over judicial reform," he said. "I'm sorry but I won't buy statements like 'these...we know how to read and write," he said.

    Political scientist Cengiz Aktar of the Istanbul Policy Forum said how Erdogan reacted to the expected criticism could determine the country's future relations with the EU.

    "Last year’s warming up may end abruptly this Tuesday. The ball is in the prime minister’s field. He will decide whether to back down or whether he will push for it, which would mean a major crisis with the EU because it would mean Turkey is definitely regressing not progressing any more," said Aktar.

    With the Turkish public's support for its EU bid at record lows, a showdown with Brussels, observers claim, could play well with his grassroots base. This is an important consideration with key local elections due to be held in March followed by presidential polls later in the summer and national elections the following year. 

    But diplomatic columnist Gursel warned that the prime minister could pay a high price for any showdown with Brussels.

    "If this prime minister resorts to EU bashing as a last option, to please his constituency, this will absolutely destroy what it is left of Turkey’s image and legitimacy. And will [take] its own toll on the economy itself. Turkey needs to be predictable," he said.

    The current political instability has already hit the financial markets hard with the Turkish currency hitting record lows. Observers warn a diplomatic crisis with the EU will do little inspire faith of international investors.

    You May Like

    Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Video Canine Reading Buddies Help Students With Literacy

    Idea behind reading program is that sharing book with nonjudgmental companion boosts students' confidence and helps instill love of reading

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora